Archive for the ‘noah’ tag
Via MrNosewiper on YouTube:
The LORD was grieved that he had made man on the earth, and his heart was filled with pain. So the LORD said, “I will wipe mankind, whom I have created, from the face of the earth–men and animals, and creatures that move along the ground, and birds of the air–for I am grieved that I have made them.” … Now the earth was corrupt in God’s sight and was full of violence. God saw how corrupt the earth had become, for all the people on earth had corrupted their ways. So God said to Noah, “I am going to put an end to all people, for the earth is filled with violence because of them. I am surely going to destroy both them and the earth. — Gen. 6:6-7, 11-13
Like most everything else in the book of Genesis, the flood story is riddled with details that, while they may make for pleasant Sunday school stories — given that God wiped out mankind in its entirety in this episode, maybe not — are inconsistent with doctrine presented elsewhere in the Bible, scientifically erroneous and too ridiculous to be taken literally by any thinking person.
Before I get going, I’m just going to ignore the verses at the beginning of Genesis 6, in which the “sons of God” marry the “daughters of men,” thus creating the Nephilim or the giants that apparently were the heroes of men. Whatever.
I’m also only going to briefly mention the inconsistency found in verses 6:20, which says:
Two of every kind of bird, of every kind of animal and of every kind of creature that moves along the ground will come to you to be kept alive.
and verses 7:2-3:
Take with you seven of every kind of clean animal, a male and its mate, and two of every kind of unclean animal, a male and its mate, and also seven of every kind of bird, male and female, to keep their various kinds alive throughout the earth.
Noah must have been fairly confused as to how many, and how many of which kind, of animals he was supposed to take onto the ark.
After “allowing” man to live to be hundreds of years old (See my last post in this series), God decides in Gen. 6:3 that man will live to be 120 years old. Few people, very few, live to be anywhere near 120 years old today. So much for the Bible being the inerrant, unalterable word of God, and so much for God being omnipotent. If this book were meant to be relevant for every generation, shouldn’t we expect it to say something about climate change or the environment? Maybe something to the effect of: “As of the writing of this book, man will live to be about 120 years old. But man will one day build great cities and pollute the earth. He will partake of fatty foods, and slowly, his life span will diminish to less than 100 years old even in the most developed parts of the earth” would have made it a little more believable.
In any case, God decrees that man will live to be 120 years old and shortly thereafter (four verses later, in fact), decides instead that man will be wiped clean from earth for his wickedness. Noah and his family alone will be saved because he was a man of God. Noah, upon God’s instruction, then proceeds to build the ark to the deity’s precise specifications. Unfortunately for God, he was less concise in his explanation about which animals, and how many, to bring onto the ark.
Like the story of Adam and Eve, one must seriously question the verse above about God being “grieved” that he had created man. First, how can an omniscient, all-powerful God question himself? Second, isn’t it kind of ludicrous that man continually fails God (the garden, the time prior to the flood, the Israelites in the desert, us), yet God acts if he’s about ready to pull his hair out over his beloved creation’s defiance. But didn’t he see this defiance beforehand, you know, when the earth was void and formless and darkness was hovering over the surface of the deep? Did he not see that Adam and Eve would fall before he created them? Did he not see that he would be forced to kill thousands, if not millions, of people in a giant and global flood? Didn’t he see that man would become disobedient even after falling from grace? And didn’t he foresee the hundreds of years of defiance and idol worship in the desert?
Did he not foresee that millions would be unable to swallow such irrational stories, not come to believe in him or his son and come under potential hellfire? If he did not see any of this, if he was surprised by any of it, he is not omniscient, plain and simple. If he did see the entire story that has played out upon humanity, the famine, the floods, the earthquakes, the Black Plague, the Salem witch trials, slavery, the Holocaust and the spiritual damnation of millions upon millions, yet set the ugly business in motion anyway, then “evil” is the only suitable word in which to describe a being that would knowingly set that amount of suffering in motion. And this is one of the strongest reasons for disbelief that I have as yet to contemplate.
I was once asked this brutally honest question from a pastor friend of mine: assuming that heaven exists and you face God one day, what would you say to him. I would say: why did you even bother?
Note: I thought this might go without saying, but the question has come up with both my believing and nonbelieving friends: if you don’t believe, why do you sometimes speak as if you do? Simply, to carry the argument through to its conclusion. For me to argue from a certain perspective, I sometimes have to slip into the language of religion to work out the larger implications. Thus, if God is real and he is really omniscient, he actually did know the awful fate that many human beings would suffer (in this world and in the hereafter) before he created the first blade of grass. And he, according to scripture, created us anyway. Here is another example in which I grant the claim that God exists to make the argument.
All the days that Adam lived were nine hundred and thirty years, and he died. … And all the days of Methuselah were nine hundred sixty and nine years: and he died. — Genesis 5:5, 5:27
When I was younger, pastors would explain the near 1,000 year life spans of some humans in the book of Genesis in this way: the atmosphere prior to the flood was much different and more friendly to life than our environment today. This still doesn’t explain why people after the flood episode still lived 100s of years. Nonetheless, believers said that the “firmament” mentioned in the early verses of Genesis actually meant a type of dome or fluid structure that enclosed the earth and largely sealed us from the sun’s rays and radiation from space. I did not know until I looked it up, but apparently this is called the canopy theory in creationist circles. Of course, unlike evolution, which is a scientific theory, canopy “theory” must take the much more speculative definition.
The argument goes that this “firmament” eventually dissipated, presumably because of man and God’s ongoing tense relationship. Others believers, like Augustine, have argued for a solid firmament, whatever that might mean. In any case, fluid or solid, presumably light from the sun was still getting down to earth, otherwise man could have not survived and nor could plants or life in general. Therefore, if light was still making it to earth, so were UV rays. If water was present in the atmosphere, it would have had to be a very thin layer indeed because UV rays still penetrate water, they just don’t penetrate very deeply. If this water “firmament” was thick, the earth would have not had enough light to support life. As we know, light only penetrates the ocean 200 meters deep. This “firmament” around the earth, then, would have had to be a mere 656 feet thick to still let enough light through to support life.
These creationist websites also tend to explain that the “firmament” was eventually the source of rain during the flood, thus accounting for the drastic decrease in man’s lifespan since we no longer had the extra protective layer. But, as I mentioned, people still are claimed to have lived hundreds of years after the flood. Here’s a handy chart (I’m assuming it’s more or less accurate since it’s in Answers in Genesis’ best interest to at least portray the Bible accurately, if not reality):
Answers in Genesis claims that “genetic bottlenecks” had something to do with the long lifespans in Genesis:
All known mutations cause a loss of information. The rate at which all types of mutations occur per generation has been suggested to be greater than 1,000.6 We inherit mutations from our parents and also develop mutations of our own; subsequently, we pass a proportion of those on to our children. So it is conceivable in the many generations between Adam and Moses that a large number of mutations would have been present in any given individual.
Genetic bottlenecks (or population bottlenecks) occur when significant proportions of the population dies or proportions become isolated. Such a bottleneck occurred at the time of Noah’s flood when the human population was reduced to eight people (Genesis 6–9). Other smaller bottlenecks occurred following the Tower of Babel dispersion (Genesis 11). These events would have resulted in a major reduction of genetic variety. …
Although Noah lived 950 years, his father, Lamech, lived only 777 years (granted we do not know if he died from old age). In addition, we do not know how long Noah’s wife lived, but Noah’s son Shem only lived 600 years. Considering that the longest recorded life span of someone born after the Flood was Eber at 464 years, it would appear that both mutations and genetic bottlenecks had severe effects on aging and life span.
By this logic, it is also conceivable that in the many generations between, say, 1040 B.C. (the possible birth year of David) and now, which number about four times as many generations as between Adam and Moses (26 generations compared to 66. For the latter period of time, I used a modern, 30-year generation), that we could have again undergone a dramatic “mutation” back to living extremely long periods of time.
Answers in Genesis also shoots its own foot off on this explanation because as it explains later in the article:
Our critically important heart muscle cells, for example, fail to multiply, repair, or replace themselves after birth (although, like all muscle cells, they can increase in size). This is why any disruption in the blood supply to the heart muscle during a heart attack leads to permanent death of that part of the heart. The nerve cells of our brain—including those of our eye and inner ear—also fail to multiply or repair themselves. From the time of our birth to the end of our life, we lose thousands of nerve cells a minute from our central nervous system, and we can never replace them. …
The important point is that science offers no hope for eternal life, or even for the significant lengthening of life. It has been estimated that if complete cures, or preventions, were found for the three major killers (cancer, stroke, and coronary artery disease), the maximum life span of man would still not increase (although more people would approach this maximum). And such long-lived people would still become progressively weaker with age, as critical components of their body continue to deteriorate.
We may conclude that God’s Word, not science, has the complete solution to the problem of aging and death. …
It’s not all that mysterious how Adam and Methuselah eventually died: like every other mortal, they had heart and brain cells, which don’t repair themselves, and never have. Aging has something to do with the deterioration of humans’ major organs, sure, but the organs themselves will do us in every time, and there is no evidence to suggest that people in primitive Palestine lived any longer than man does today. To the contrary, they probably lived much, much shorter lives because of various environmental and social factors, wars, and well, the lack of medicine, etc. Contrary to that last sentence from Answers in Genesis, science and medicine have extended people’s lives dramatically and continue to show huge potential in assuaging people’s symptoms and eradicating incurable diseases like Parkinson’s, cancer and diabetes. Science is actually the only hope, while prayer, while it may make a sick person feel more comforted in the midst of whatever malady they be facing, will do only that.
Note: Edited with additional comments July 22, 2009.
Here is something I’ve been stewing over the last couple weeks as the God question, and my response to it, has apparently stirred the waters enough to compel quite a number of folks to pen their own stories and their reasons for belief to me. They all can be read as you scroll down to the bottom of the above link.
The question is this: What would compel me, specifically, and others, I would dare say, to be more inclined to believe the claims of the Bible. To begin, Dan Barker, a former pastor and sold-out Christian, in his book, “Godless,” used a telling quote from Mark Twain in chapter 13 of his book:
It ain’t those parts of the bible that I can’t understand that bother me, it is the parts that I do understand.
Ain’t it the truth! From Barker, briefly, here are a few points:
Should we kill? Exodus 20:13 of the Ten Commandments says no (So does Leviticus 24:17), while Exodus 32:27; 1 Samuel 6:19; 1 Samuel 15:2, 3, 7, 8; Numbers 15:36; Hosea 13:16 recounted where either the Lord or the people of Israel ordered or ordered to put folks to the sword or “dasheth thy little ones upon the stones,” and in many cases, many, many folks.
Does God change his mind? Nay: Malachi 3:6, Numbers 23:19, Ezekial 24:14, James 1:17 versus the Yays, Exodus 32:14, Jonah 3:10, Genesis 18: 23-33, where God changes his mind about how many of the righteous are required before he will destroy the city. God bargained with Abraham from 50 to 10. Notes Barker: “An omniscient God must have known that he was playing with Abraham’s hopes for mercy — he (God) destroyed the city anyway.”
Is God good or evil? Yes: Psalm 145:9, Deuteronomy 32:4; Nay: Isaiah 45:7, Jeremiah 18:11
When was Jesus born? Matthew 2:1 says that it was before 4 B.C.E.: “Now when Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judaea in the days of Herod the king …” (Herod died in 4 B.C.E., as Barker notes); versus, Luke 2:1-4, which suggests after 6 C.E. For more on this point, see this link.
When was Jesus crucified? Mark 15:25 versus John 19:14-15. Notes Barker, “It is an ad hoc defense to claim that there are two methods of reckoning time here. It has never been shown that this is the case.”
How many animals on the ark? Genesis 6:19 versus Genesis 7:2.
I could go on, but you get the picture. One commentator to my earlier post said that once I seriously investigated the Bible and asked for God’s guidance, that these and other “contradictions” (He put it in quotes) would be reconciled. Very well and invite that day, but as of now, there are serious questions. I said at the beginning that I had been thinking of a way that God could have possibly saved folks like me, who are bothered by contradictory details, a lot of trouble. And here it is:
A GOD-AUTHORED BIBLE, FOR REAL THIS TIME
How about this? God created the entire cosmos in six days, correct? If so, this request should have been a piece of cake. For God to make a better case for himself, he should simply have authored the entire Bible himself, not through human vessels, but literally before he created anything. In that expanse before creation that was filled only by himself, he could have easily created out of thin air a pen and notepad. He could have easily penned the Bible as he would have written it in 200-plus translations, including Greek, ancient Hebrew, Aramaic, Latin, French, German, Old English, modern English, Spanish, Swedish, Mandarin, Russian, Japanese, Yiddish, etc. For later generations, he could have easily created a computer and created for modern people any number of cassette tapes, 8-tracks, CDs, Blu-ray discs or any other medium of communication that would have been invented in the future containing either audio of “his word” or text documents of his word. Or one step further: Why bother with inventing anything to then physically go about the tedious routine of writing? Since he’s God, he could have simply spoken the entire thing into existence right then and there off the top of his head.
Since he is omniscient, he could have easily given us accurate, non-contradictory accounts of every single event in history up until a certain period in which he deemed fit, including spot-on, non-contradictory accounts of every event mentioned in the Bible. He could deliver this “true” account to mankind, at, say, 40 A.D. after Christ’s crucifixion and then deliver the same account to each generation hence so that every generation would have the current word from God. And since he is also all-powerful, he could have also made darn-well sure that the accounts he authored would not be corrupted, edited, changed, or restructured by the church.
Now, if we had such an account today that contained zero, not one, self-contradiction (and this would be possible for an omniscient, all-powerful god), I confess that I would be more inclined to believe. But as it stands, how could God, who was supposedly attempting to deliver the most important message humankind will ever hear in its existence, let his word pass into human hands? The first word that we have of the current canon is from Athanasius, the Bishop of Alexandria, Egypt in 367 C.E., as it appears today:
By the time of Athanasius, or shortly before, the church had reached an informal consensus about most of the writings to be included in the ‘New’ Testament. — Roy W. Hoover, “How the Canon Was Formed”
So, the structure of the current Bible that we have is far from God-breathed in so much that it was physically authored by men and arranged by men. Believers will obviously say it was inspired by God. But this does us no good. If a fellow named Luke, a true believer, composed a book today and called it God’s 21st Century Epistle and in its pages claimed that it was the inspired word from God for modern man, would we not question its authenticity? Then why do we not question the authenticity of books written thousands of years ago by folks supposedly from Bronze Age Mesopotamia?
And further, who were these folks that had the authority to decide which books made it in and which books were heresy? Who gave them that authority? Again, I could claim the same authority to again arrange them as I was inspired by God, or author a new one, but many would be quick to call foul (Thomas Jefferson, not necessarily on God’s authority, did something similar, which came to be called the Jefferson Bible). Thus, the current Bible could have been improved with an actual, true to life, word from God. If it were so important that we believe, either in him or in Christ, or both, shouldn’t he have given us more? I envision such a statement as a possible preface to a truly God-authored Bible compiled, not by men, but by God himself. To begin, it would read:
My sons and daughters,
These are my words, the history of man, my instructions for living your lives and my prophecies concerning the end times. Do not edit, rearrange, redact or in anyway alter these words. These are the words from the Lord your God in which you must keep for all times.
But we don’t have such a record, do we? We have the Bible which is unquestionably flawed, and I’ve proven that point repeatably, and can go even further. Again, if we had a document straight from God with zero snafus, for real, I would be less inclined to poise any questions about its validity. To add something here: Even if we had such a book, the need for faith would not be erased. Even if God physically and literally intervened in human affairs today, this would still not erase the need for faith. We see this in numerous places in the Bible, where men saw wondrous things with their own eyes, and once the miracle was complete, fell back into doubt. The Israelites had vast reasons to believe, didn’t they? But they continually fell back into idol worship. So, I don’t believe this request would have been too much to ask, but this isn’t the document in front of us.